- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 26, 2020

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - As Texas braced for Hurricane Laura on Wednesday, state officials said there were 229 newly reported deaths from COVID-19 and 5,045 newly reported cases of the coronavirus that causes it.

As people evacuated the upper Texas coast, emergency officials have been urging them to take safeguards against the virus as well.

Laura strengthened Wednesday into a Category 4 hurricane, which can cause damage so catastrophic that power outages may last for months in places.

The number of COVID-19 patients in Texas hospitals has continued to drop and stood at 4,806 patients Wednesday. On Tuesday, the number dipped below 5,000 for the first time since June.

The Texas Department of State Health Services said Texas so far has reported more than 592,000 cases since pandemic tracking began in March, and 11,805 deaths have been reported.

The true number of cases is likely higher because many people haven’t been tested and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

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